At a McDonalds in the Middle of Nowhere, Texas
Welcome to the crossroads of the world –
This place of respite for all travelers
and migrants seeking refuge from the brushland
and the endless, open roads of Texas.
I stumble in with stomach empty, bladder
Overflowing, order some familiar food to eat.
The girl who takes my order’s nails sparkle
Underneath the sheen of the florescent lights.
In the background, country music drones
A worn-out song that makes me want to sleep.
The manager sashes from register
To register with ease. He calls my number.
I take my food and fade into the backdrop
As I watch the scene of everyman unfold –
A tale as old oak, a rugged man
Walks in and drags the dust of work across
The clean tiled floors. A smile like a firewheel
Blooms on his face. The manager slicks back
His hair and leans into the counter, whispers
To him with a wink. Their giggles boom
Like welcomed thunder just before the rain.
I’ve come to pressure wash your driveway, Carlos.
Aye, go pressure wash tus nalgas, Ed,
Carlos shouts and waves his index finger
in the air as if he’s dancing to a beat
that no one else can hear. Ed shakes his head,
laughs too, then orders a Big Mac, a coke.
Carlos packs the order like a gift
Hands it to him with a tenderness.
An older man walks in. He’s wearing sandals
with a pair of clean white socks. The cashier
asks him, Can I help you, sir? He stares,
then shakes his head. No, darling I’m beyond
any help that you can hope to give.
I’ll have a fish filet. Outside, a roar
Crescendos and then stops. The sound of footsteps
Jingling metal, grunting, then the door
Swings open. I can’t help but stop and stare –
A woman dressed in leather chaps and boots,
A faded pair of blue jeans, a bandana.
Her presence makes the restaurant go silent.
Queen of the brushland and the open road,
She lumbers in, her arms across her chest,
Orders just a diet coke to go.
She takes her giant drink with lots of ice,
Heads back outside and mounts her metal steed
As it roars and then she disappears
into the swirling dust. I finish lunch
and rise, refreshed and satisfied, prepared
to finish the long journey through the state
towards home – the southern tip of this great land
where life and love are always in full bloom.